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Meet the Artist: From the Ground Up

Meet the Artist: From the Ground Up

If you look up my name, you’ll see a few things I’m incredibly proud of: representation in multiple galleries, book releases, a product line, and collaborations with industry leaders ranging from designers and influencers – and most importantly, art that speaks to the heart of the human condition. But there is so much more than what meets the eye; what’s often missing from simply searching “René Romero Schuler” online is the unexpected, self-taught journey that brought me to where I am today.

Just like most in this industry, building a brand did not happen overnight. My quest to discover my individual artistic strength required years of contemplating life’s innumerable challenges and a never-ending effort to keep my feet on the ground through it all. The lessons I learned while seeking my truth and finding myself as an artist came down to pondering and deciphering my conscience, fears, and desires through creation. What truly manifests passion into your work is the ability to deconstruct, submit to your process, and celebrate yourself — despite any flaws.

My work today is about creating powerful images of strength and vulnerability representing subjects of love, sorrow, solitude, and heartbreak. Through depicting these difficult emotions, I’m able to heal myself as well as my viewers as they channel their deepest feelings into hope, fortitude, and ultimately, enduring strength. My figurative forms, primarily focusing on the female form, are a tribute to all of us who have endured mistreatment and prejudice — I think of them as portraits of the various human emotions and an appreciation for the struggle and triumph of the human condition.

My interest in art began at the age of four when my kindergarten teacher enthusiastically expressed delight in my use of color on paper. My self-discovery as an artist occurred at that very moment — but it took years of dedication for others to see what I saw in myself. Born in Chicago, I spent part of my childhood in Ecuador before returning to Chicago and a difficult homelife that prompted me to leave home at a young age. I found solace in my self-taught artistic ability, first selling my work in high school. I eventually started a career by actively seeking and creating commissioned works for local businesses, nightclubs, backdrops, murals, and restaurants. With an innate desire to do more, I founded Romero Design in 1992 and opened my own showroom and gallery in 1997.

Through the hardships I experienced growing up, I channeled my emotions into a variety of mediums. I recall hanging canvases on curtain rods in my apartment to experiment with throwing paint, sand, glue, and whatever else would stick. Later, these works became more hyper-controlled and realistic. My technique and process-oriented self, on the other hand, never allowed my art to be truly “finished,” and I was left feeling disconnected. However, through this frustration, I discovered my current style which defined my fine art career path.

One day while I was in a particularly bad mood and attempting to clean my palette, I aggressively scraped and wiped excess paint on a nearby “unfinished” canvas and walked out of my studio. When I returned the next day, I noticed the paint resembled a face on the canvas. I was ignited with a vision and worked my way through the painting by adding textures representative of feelings that moved through me. When I took a step back, I was overcome with emotion — the painting was finished and there was nothing left to do, nothing left to give. As strange as it may sound, it was this form and reflective process that gave birth to my “ladies,” a deliberate expressionist art form through which I was able to connect with others and tell my stories.

My work as an artist is constantly evolving and I don’t believe in holding on to a certain style or attempting to recreate a previous one. We change, grow, and see things differently as we go through life, just like everyone else. The work must change because it is completely organic and must flow from my consciousness. On a personal level, having endured a lot in my life, I would simply say that looking backwards and dwelling will never move us forward.

Although my style is continually evolving, I believe in maintaining a mindful, creative process that transforms the complexities and traumas of my past into healing stories of peace and compassion. And, while abstract, I try to capture the raw beauty of truth in my work and yield a positive energy known as hope. For other aspiring artists out there, here are my defining takeaways inspired by my journey as an artist:

  1. Don’t be afraid to start small and take risks, but always aim bigger.
  2. Finding one’s style does not happen overnight. It can take years of self-reflection and delving deeply into your own self.
  3. Only present works that are complete, professional, heartfelt, and consistent. A consistent and relatable body of work will eventually propel you to reaching your goals, whatever they may be.
  4. Rejection is part of the process and the best education you can receive. Continue to be persistent.
  5. While creating a work of art, tap into your energy and allow things to come together and become what they will be.
  6. Discover yourself through your art and continue to evolve it — change is an important part of the evolution process.
  7. Keep going no matter what happens in your life — learn to turn negatives into positives by finding the learning lessons in every failure. While making art can be a mysterious, arduous, and time-consuming process, it is also a way to heal and to remain strong.

As for me, I’m still pursuing my dreams as I prepare to start a new chapter of my life and continue creating art in Carmel, California, after 47 years of calling Chicago home — a city that will always hold a special place in my heart. My next gallery, “Reflections,” will take place from May 20 to August 6 at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago.

About René Romero Schuler

René Romero Schuler is an American painter and sculptor who creates powerful images that speak to the complexities   of the human condition and the spirit that connects all human beings.

Feminine figures are a constant in Schuler’s art, which she claims is equal parts self-portraiture and depictions of the range of emotions she has experienced. Her challenging childhood imbues her work with an appreciation for the universal yet essentially intimate struggles and triumphs of human existence. In her quest for a feeling of connection, Schuler speaks to global and societal issues that impact us all.

Schuler’s paintings and sculptures are purposely semi-abstract and textured, rendering them open to interpretation by the viewer. Their power lies in the layers of applied materials scraped, carved and incised by hand and the elusive quality of the figures – holistically beautiful but symbolic of the scars and flaws that shape individuals.

Currently represented by galleries across the U.S. and Europe, Schuler has had exhibitions throughout the U.S. and in Paris, Rome, Paxos, Singapore and Beirut. Her work is included in the permanent collections of The Union League Club of Chicago, Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) in Chicago, Grand Valley State University in Michigan, Coral Springs Museum of Art and St. Thomas University Museum of Art – Sardiñas Gallery in Miami.

Schuler’s art and selected essays and poetry are collected into published works: René Romero Schuler: Life and Works, 2013; René Romero Schuler, 2016 and René Romero Schuler, 2019. A fourth book, Ladies, is scheduled for publication in 2022.


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